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A Project Dependency Graph Utility for Visual Studio 2008

, 17 Jun 2009 CPOL
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Review your project dependencies.

ProjectDependencyGraph

ProjectDependencyGraph

Introduction

I recently wanted to look at the dependencies of a fairly large set of projects in a solution (not the one in the screenshot), and discovered that while there are apps/tools that do that, they are either Code Project articles for previous versions of Visual Studio or they create an unreadable smear of boxes and lines, because they were never designed to handle a solution with 50 or more projects. So, I decided to create a textual, treeview based browser of dependencies.

It's very simple, offering both a hierarchical view of project dependencies or a flattened list of dependencies, and also a tree-view showing projects that are dependencies of other projects (the right-hand side of the image above).

Limitations

  • Will undoubtedly become obsolete with VS2010
  • Works only with C# projects (any other project type is not parsed)
  • Works only with VS2008 solution files

Hierarchical View of Project Dependencies

Note how the view is hierarchical, allowing you to drill into each project's dependencies.

Flattened View of Project Dependencies

In this view, the application drills into project dependencies for you and presents all unique dependencies in a flattened list:

Project's Dependency on Other Projects

You can also pick a project and find out what projects reference the selected project:

The Code

The code is really simple. Very little error checking and pretty much brute force implementation. The one annoying thing I discovered is that the solution file is not an XML document, whereas the project files (csproj) are. Makes one wonder.

Reading the Solution File

Basically, this involves a lot of string checking and processing, in which a dictionary of project names and project paths is created.

public class Solution
{
  protected Dictionary<string, string> projectPaths;

  public Dictionary<string, string> ProjectPaths 
  {
    get { return projectPaths; }
  }

  public Solution()
  {
    projectPaths = new Dictionary<string, string>();
  }

  // Example:
  // Project("{FAE04EC0-301F-11D3-BF4B-00C04F79EFBC}") = "NumericKeypadComponent", 
  //   "NumericKeypadComponent\NumericKeypadComponent.csproj", 
  //   "{05D03020-4604-4CE9-8F99-E1D93ADEDF15}"
  // EndProject

  public void Read(string filename)
  {
    StreamReader sr = new StreamReader(filename);
    string solPath = Path.GetDirectoryName(filename);

    while (!sr.EndOfStream)
    {
      string line = sr.ReadLine();

      if (!String.IsNullOrEmpty(line))
      {
        if (line.StartsWith("Project"))
        {
          string projName = StringHelpers.Between(line, '=', ',');
          projName = projName.Replace('"', ' ').Trim();
          string projPath = StringHelpers.RightOf(line, ',');
          projPath = StringHelpers.Between(projPath, '"', '"');
          projPath = projPath.Replace('"', ' ').Trim();

          // virtual solution folders appear as projects but don't end with .csproj
          // gawd, imagine what happens if someone creates a foo.csproj 
          // virt. solution folder!
          if (projPath.EndsWith(".csproj"))
          {
            // assume relative paths. Probably not a good assumption
            projPath = Path.Combine(solPath, projPath);

            // we don't allow projects with the same name, even if different paths.
            projectPaths.Add(projName, projPath);
          }
        }
      }
    }

    sr.Close();
  }
}

Reading a Project File

Ah, an XML file! Woohoo! It took a while for me to realize that I needed to specify the XML namespace along with the element name. As in, several hours of fussing, pulling hair out, and finally stumbling across some documentation in MSDN that gave an example of using Elements with a namespace. Sigh.

Similar to the Solution class, this class builds a dictionary of referenced projects, where the key is the referenced project name and the value is the referenced project path.

public class Project
{
  protected Dictionary<string, string> referencedProjects;
  protected List<Project> dependencies;

  public string Name { get; set; }

  public Dictionary<string, string> ReferencedProjects
  {
    get { return referencedProjects; }
  }

  public List<Project> Dependencies
  {
    get { return dependencies; }
  }

  public Project()
  {
    referencedProjects = new Dictionary<string, string>();
    dependencies = new List<Project>();
  }

  // Example:
  // <Project ToolsVersion="3.5" DefaultTargets="Build" 
  // xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003">
  // <ItemGroup>
  // <ProjectReference Include="..\Cx.Attributes\Cx.Attributes.csproj">
  // <Project>{EFDBD81C-64BE-47F3-905E-7618B61BD224}</Project>
  // <Name>Cx.Attributes</Name>
  // </ProjectReference>

  public void Read(string filename)
  {
    XDocument xdoc = XDocument.Load(filename);
    XNamespace ns = "http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003";

    foreach (var projRef in from el in 
       xdoc.Root.Elements(ns + "ItemGroup").Elements(ns + "ProjectReference")
    select new
    {
      Path = el.Attribute("Include").Value,
      Name = el.Element(ns + "Name").Value
    })
    {
      string projPath = Path.GetDirectoryName(filename);
      projPath = Path.Combine(projPath, projRef.Path);
      referencedProjects.Add(projRef.Name, projPath);
    }
  }
}

Parsing the Solution File

A separate method is used to put the solution and projects together into yet another dictionary, this time the key being the project name and the value being a Project instance. This method also populates the Dependencies collection in the Project class (yeah, that's really bad practice, I know).

protected Dictionary<string, Project> projects;

protected void ParseSolution(string filename)
{
  projects = new Dictionary<string, Project>();
  Solution sol = new Solution();
  sol.Read(filename);

  foreach (KeyValuePair<string, string> kvp in sol.ProjectPaths)
  {
    Project proj = new Project();
    proj.Name = kvp.Key;
    proj.Read(kvp.Value);
    projects.Add(proj.Name, proj);
  }

  foreach (KeyValuePair<string, Project> kvp in projects)
  {
    foreach (string refProjName in kvp.Value.ReferencedProjects.Keys)
    {
      Project refProject = projects[refProjName];
      kvp.Value.Dependencies.Add(refProject);
    }
  }
}

Populating the Dependency Graph

There are two ways of populating the dependency graph: hierarchical or flat. The code for both is similar--the big difference is that child nodes aren't being created. And another ugly kludge in the flattened implementation is how I search for assemblies already in the node collection. Yuck!

/// <summary>
/// Sets up initial project name and first level of dependencies.
/// From there, child dependencies are either added hierarchically or flattened.
/// </summary>
protected void PopulateNewLevel(TreeNode node, ICollection<Project> projects)
{
  List<string> nodeNames = new List<string>();

  foreach (Project p in projects)
  {
    TreeNode tn = new TreeNode(p.Name);
    node.Nodes.Add(tn);

    if (asTree)
    {
      PopulateNewLevel(tn, p.Dependencies);
    }
    else
    {
      // flatten the dependency hierarchy, removing duplicates
      PopulateSameLevel(tn, p.Dependencies);
    }
  }
}

protected void PopulateSameLevel(TreeNode node, ICollection<Project> projects)
{
  foreach (Project p in projects)
  {
    bool found = false;

    foreach (TreeNode child in node.Nodes)
    {
      if (child.Text == p.Name)
      {
        found = true;
        break;
      }
    }

    if (!found)
    {
      TreeNode tn = new TreeNode(p.Name);
      node.Nodes.Add(tn);
    }

    PopulateSameLevel(node, p.Dependencies);
  }
}

Populating the "Is Dependency Of" Graph

Also straightforward, also has a kludge to remove duplicate project names.

protected void PopulateDependencyOfProjects(TreeNode node, ICollection<Project> projects)
{
  foreach (Project p in projects)
  {
    TreeNode tn = new TreeNode(p.Name);
    node.Nodes.Add(tn);

    foreach (Project pdep in projects)
    {
      foreach (Project dep in pdep.Dependencies)
      {
        if (p.Name == dep.Name)
        {
          bool found = false;

          // the project pdep has a dependency on the project p.
          // p is a dependency of pdep
          foreach (TreeNode tnDep in tn.Nodes)
          {
            if (tnDep.Text == pdep.Name)
            {
              found = true;
              break;
            }
          }
  
          if (!found)
          {
            TreeNode tn2 = new TreeNode(pdep.Name);
            tn.Nodes.Add(tn2);
          }
        }
      }
    }
  }
}

Conclusion

Hopefully someone will find this useful and maybe even build upon it! It was a short and fun to write application. One thing I'd like to add is sorting the project names.

History

6/17/2009 - Initial Version

6/25/2009

  • Projects are now sorted alphabetically 
  • Added a synchronize option, which finds the project in the opposing tree, selects it, and opens the tree.  This is really useful to look at both project dependencies and dependencies of a project at the same time. 

7/5/2009 - Added rendering of graph using graphviz.  Thanks to Dmitri Nesteruk for making the original changes to this application and for making his rendering code public.

   

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Marc Clifton

United States United States
Marc is the creator of two open source projects, MyXaml, a declarative (XML) instantiation engine and the Advanced Unit Testing framework, and Interacx, a commercial n-tier RAD application suite.  Visit his website, www.marcclifton.com, where you will find many of his articles and his blog.
 
Marc lives in Philmont, NY.

Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionVote 5 PinmemberMatan Fihman9-Dec-13 4:00 
AnswerRe: Vote 5 PinprotectorMarc Clifton9-Dec-13 4:06 
QuestionRuntime Error PinmemberMember 86133661-Feb-12 8:00 
AnswerRe: Runtime Error Pinmemberdaiwuju5-Jun-12 3:55 
Generalsearching................... Pinmemberraj vaasu yadav27-Jan-12 19:55 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberKanasz Robert1-Dec-11 3:47 
Generalsimple to use javascript variant PinmemberMember 35155522-Jan-11 16:59 
GeneralGreat stuff Pinmemberbstabile31-May-10 10:22 
GeneralRe: Great stuff PinprotectorMarc Clifton31-May-10 10:25 
GeneralNice little tool! Pinmemberdgaudian11-Apr-10 22:37 
Thanks for this nice tool.
I made a few minor changes for our special needs - are you interested receiving the changes back?
- Delayed population of left treeview on expansion of nodes (for large solutions with many dependencies)
- Check boxes before the nodes to exclude Projects from rendering
- Colors for different project types (libraries, exes, winexes)
- Small optical and layout enhancements
Greetings,
Dirk
GeneralRe: Nice little tool! PinprotectorMarc Clifton12-Apr-10 4:13 
QuestionDownload not Working ?? PinmemberBill Elsey13-Oct-09 4:20 
AnswerRe: Download not Working ?? PinprotectorMarc Clifton13-Oct-09 5:18 
GeneralBinding XDocument content to treeview Pinmembermukhtharsal31-Jul-09 1:38 
GeneralThanks PinmemberJohan Fourie12-Jul-09 18:44 
GeneralRe: Thanks PinprotectorMarc Clifton13-Jul-09 5:04 
QuestionWhere is the graph? PinmemberDmitri Nesteruk27-Jun-09 21:43 
AnswerRe: Where is the graph? PinprotectorMarc Clifton28-Jun-09 10:22 
AnswerRe: Where is the graph? PinmemberDmitri Nesteruk28-Jun-09 10:34 
GeneralRe: Where is the graph? PinprotectorMarc Clifton28-Jun-09 10:38 
AnswerRe: Where is the graph? PinmemberDmitri Nesteruk28-Jun-09 10:50 
GeneralRe: Where is the graph? PinmemberDmitri Nesteruk28-Jun-09 10:53 
GeneralRe: Where is the graph? PinprotectorMarc Clifton28-Jun-09 11:01 
GeneralGood job, but can be slow for large solutions PinmemberZTransform22-Jun-09 7:06 
GeneralRe: Good job, but can be slow for large solutions PinprotectorMarc Clifton22-Jun-09 11:31 
GeneralComment and a problem ... Pinmembersdahlbac21-Jun-09 23:53 
GeneralRe: Comment and a problem ... PinprotectorMarc Clifton22-Jun-09 6:58 
GeneralVery timely indeed Mr Clifton PinmvpSacha Barber20-Jun-09 7:00 
GeneralRe: Very timely indeed Mr Clifton PinprotectorMarc Clifton28-Jun-09 10:23 
GeneralMy Vote of 5 Pingroupprogrammersmind20-Jun-09 0:33 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberDr.Luiji19-Jun-09 12:37 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 PinmemberDr.Luiji21-Jun-09 22:29 
GeneralVery nice Mr C. PinmvpPete O'Hanlon18-Jun-09 13:59 
GeneralRe: Very nice Mr C. PinprotectorMarc Clifton19-Jun-09 8:20 
GeneralRe: Very nice Mr C. PinmvpPete O'Hanlon19-Jun-09 9:41 
Question??? PinmemberPaw Jershauge18-Jun-09 1:25 
AnswerRe: ??? PinprotectorMarc Clifton18-Jun-09 3:20 
GeneralRe: ??? PinmemberPaw Jershauge18-Jun-09 7:52 
QuestionVisual Studio Automation? PinmemberIndivara17-Jun-09 16:42 
AnswerRe: Visual Studio Automation? PinprotectorMarc Clifton18-Jun-09 3:16 
GeneralGreat PinmemberDaniel Vaughan17-Jun-09 13:13 
GeneralRe: Great PinprotectorMarc Clifton18-Jun-09 3:24 

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